How To Cut Large Dogs Nails

The Hardships of Dog Nail Clipping

You love your dog more than anything in the entire world, you want the best for them and you can't hardly believe they are yours to care for! You hate to see them upset and you love it when their tail is wagging and eyes are glowing.  But one thing they hate is their nails being clipped or filed which leads to stress, anxiety and negativity in the house for both you and your pet.  You don't want to upset your beloved puppy or dog, so sometimes you push it off a few more days.  Other times, you take your dog to the vet to have them do their nail grooming instead of doing it at home. We've all been there- nail grooming and clipping is not always fun and easy! 

Why Should We Clip Our Dog's Nails

Even though we know that our dogs would rather be out taking a walk or enjoying fresh air, we as dog owners are responsible for taking the time to clip their nails. Nail care is one of the most foundational aspects of owning a dog.  Without nail grooming, our dogs can experience negative consequences such as:

  1. Our dogs toenails can grow excessively, even in a quick amount of time and begin to cause pain in their feet.
  2. The toenails can curl under, rubbing against the ground and putting unnecessary pressure on the paw pads. 
  3. In some cases the toenails will have nowhere to continue to grow and will begin to grow inward, into the paw pad creating a haven for infection and irritation.
  4. With long nails, dogs can become instantly more prone to slipping and falling without the use of their pads to grip them. 
  5. Dogs nails can begin to break off, causing bleeding and infection. 
  6. As stated by Canine Arthritis Resource and Education, "Over-grown nails will change the biomechanics of the digits and could lead to arthritis in the toes". This means that long toenails can change the entire shape of your dogs feet and toes, causing irreversible damage.

I Know I Should But Don't Know How

Many loving pet owners find themselves knowing and understanding that trimming and grooming their pets nails is the right thing to do, but feeling ill equipped to handle the task on their own. We are here to give you tips to help you and your dog conquer this task of taking care of your dogs nails at home so that you can achieve the healthy, short nails your dog needs. 

Throughout the rest of the blog we will cover 5 questions and topics such as:

    • What to use?
    • When to trim?
    • Where to trim?
    • How to trim?
    • How to desensitize?

      What to Use

        • The size of the clippers that you will need depends on the size of your dog. It is helpful to get a non slip pair that fits around your dogs toenails. Many people also find clippers with a safety guard helpful when cutting their dogs nails.  
        • Giant Breed dogs will need large clippers.
        • Some people prefer to use a nail dremmel for their pets nail care. The Dremmel Paw Control has several features such as a nail guard and a rechargable battery.
        • An additional option is to get a regular Dremmel tool, found at your local Home Depot or hardware store.  The benefit of this investment is that your Dremmel might last longer than the Paw Control. 
        • Keep your tools sharp by replacing the dremmel bits or sharpening your clippers. 

      When to Trim

      The ASPA states that, "As a rule of thumb, a dog’s nails should be trimmed when they just about touch the ground when he or she walks. If your pet’s nails are clicking or getting snagged on the floor, it’s time for a trim." Rover points out a great point that, "Puppies need more frequent nail trims than adults because their nails are growing at a faster rate. Have you ever been scratched by a puppy? Those adorable little nails are sharp! In general, it’s best to trim your puppy’s nails a little bit every week". 

      In this image by Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, you can see that the quick is surrounded by the nail. Both the quick and the nail surround the bone, which is the most important part of the toe to protect.  

      There are two major parts to a toenail - the quick, which contains the blood supply and nerves that nourish it, and the nail itself. Unlike humans, dogs also do not have any feeling in their nails, but the quick contains a nerve that transmits sensations back to their brains. To avoid causing pain or drawing blood, it is important to stay far enough away from the quick when trimming the nail.

      First, look at both the side and the cut surface of each nail as you trim it. Just before reaching the quick, the cut surface of white nails turns pink. At this point, you should stop. Since the quick is not visible from the side of black nails, they are more difficult to clip. If you happen to have a young dog with longer nails, you can safely trim off the tip, essentially making the nail flat across the tip, without the risk of hitting the quick. The nail surface is very important to know when you have trimmed the dog's nails well if their nails aren't overly long. When the cut surface is first exposed on a black nail, it appears white or gray, but before reaching the quick it turns chalky and then pink. If you want to see this change, lose just a little bit of nail at a time, and stop when you see a solid black area with a chalky texture on the cut surface. 

      How to Trim

      Big Dog Mom made an excellent video regarding How To Trim Your Large Dog's Nails. 

      How to Desensitize

      Is your dog scared of nail clippers? Filing dogs' nails can be a very stressful process. As responsible pet owners, it is our job to take care of our dogs joints and feet, which includes their nails. Using a desensitization program, you can train your dog to accept having his nails done and even enjoy it. We use treats to reward the dog when he accepts being touched, manipulated, and eventually having his nails clipped, to teach him very gradually to accept having his feet touched. In the long run, this will be worth it since your dog will be less anxious during the nail clipping process. Be patient, due to how fearful he is of getting his nails clipped.

      Some options for desensitization are:

      1. Whole Dog Journal released a list of force-free nail trimming solutions. 
      2. Dog Training by Kiko Pup gave 5 tips for desensitization
      3. Try a scratch pad to get your dog used to their nails being touched


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